NATO allies have agreed to speed up planning for possible military action in Libya, but the alliance has yet to decide whether to intervene in the conflict, a NATO official says.
The decision was made yesterday by ambassadors of the 28-nation alliance after the UN Security Council approved military action, including the enforcement of a no-fly zone, to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s regime from crushing rebels.
“The ambassadors agreed to accelerate the military planning,” a NATO official said on condition of anonymity, adding that envoys will meet again in the coming days to try to complete the process.
“The issue of concrete action is not on the table yet,” the official added.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a statement saying the three conditions needed for international action in Libya had now been met: an urgent need to act, regional support and a UN mandate.
“The resolution sends a strong and clear message from the entire international community to the Gaddafi regime: stop your brutal and systematic violence against the people of Libya immediately,” Rasmussen said.
“NATO is now completing its planning in order to be ready to take appropriate action in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, as part of the broad international effort,” he said.
“There is an urgent need, firm support from the region and a clear UN mandate for necessary international action,” he said.
“Allies stand behind the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and human rights.”
Although NATO has yet to decide whether to act as an organisation, its members are free to act on their own.
France and Britain are gearing up to launch their own air missions, with Paris saying strikes are imminent. Agencies